Both organisations have published extensively on non-formal education and learning, most recently "Recognising Non-Formal and Informal Learning: Outcomes, Policies and Practices" (OECD, 2010) and the "European guidelines for validating non-formal and informal learning" (CEDEFOP, 2009).
Additionally, CEDEFOP has — through the European inventory on validating non-formal and informal learning — provided a series of valuable insights into national policies and practices in validating non-formal and informal learning.
In the years to come, the youth field is likely to be confronted with increased demands to synchronise its currently existing sector-specific policies and approaches to the recognition of non-formal and informal learning with wider contexts and instruments such as the European Qualification Framework (EQF), the European Credit System for Vocational Education and Training (ECVET) or the European Skills Competencies Occupations Taxonomy (ESCO).
“This publication presents the conclusions of more than two years of intensive exchange of experiences – involving representatives from more than 20 European countries – in validating non-formal and informal learning.
It is widely acknowledged and recognised that non-formal learning provides unique learning opportunities to millions of young Europeans on a daily basis.
The glossary of the European Knowledge Centre for Youth Policy describes non-formal learning as follows: "Non-formal learning is purposive but voluntary learning that takes place in a diverse range of environments and situations for which teaching/training and learning is not necessarily their sole or main activity.
These arrangements will enable individuals to increase the visibility and value of their knowledge, skills and competences acquired outside formal education and training: at work, at home or in voluntary activities.
Considering the recognition of non-formal education and learning a prerequisite for making lifelong learning a reality across Europe, the European Youth Forum has adopted several policy papers, developed numerous reports on the issue and organises regular dialogue events on non-formal education.
Beyond the youth sector and strongly linked with the lifelong learning strategy of the European Union, the validation and recognition of non-formal learning plays a significant and strategic role in the work of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development – OECD and the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training – CEDEFOP.
Non-formal learning is an extensively used and intensely debated notion in the youth field.
It stands for a range of core learning principles, methodologies and approaches in the youth sector, commonly emphasising the learner's intrinsic motivation, voluntary participation, critical thinking and democratic agency.